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Government contribution to drought appeal a good start

damien oconnor

The Rural Advisory Group are grateful that the Government has quickly responded to the regional request for financial assistance and is injecting $500,000 to the Mayoral Drought Relief Fund.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today made the announcement at the Hastings District Council saying the Government wanted to help farmers in one of the worst droughts in living memory.

Rural Advisory Group chair Lochie MacGillivray says the farming community will benefit from the Government’s help and it is a great start for the fund to address the challenges of the drought.

“While we acknowledge this contribution from the Government, we do want to say that this comes before the Minister is yet to see the extent of the drought, it’s impact on farmers, and their families.”

“Tomorrow the Minister will visit farmers across the region and learn first-hand from farmers about the profound challenges of this kind of drought, including accessing feed, and managing stock, to the mental hardship of working in these conditions with hungry animals,” he said.

“The farming community is faced with a massive feed deficit, that will need substantial funding assistance and co-ordination of key stakeholders to address.”

“We need our primary sector to recover from this drought in the best possible shape, given their importance to our regional economy, and the impact of Covid-19. The Mayoral Drought Relief Fund will help with this process, and we need to support our farmer’s recovery with the best possible funding in order to achieve this.”

The fund will pay for feed to be shipped from the South Island where it is available, and the Rural Advisory Group and Rural Support Trust will work closely with feed co-ordinators to ensure feed gets to the farms where it is most needed.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chairman Rex Graham says he was pleased the Minister came to region at a desperate time for farmers, who are coping with a bad drought and Covid-19.

“We need to get help to as many of these farmers as we possibly can, because they have been important to our economy for 100 years, and are still very important. We need to help them for their family’s sake, and for the economy’s sake. We need them,” he said.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will tomorrow consider a staff paper recommendation to contribute $200,000 to the Mayoral Drought Relief Fund.

Yesterday Central Hawke’s Bay District Council pledged $50,000 to the fund, and consumer-owned electricity lines company Centralines also pledged $50,000.

The fund was set up by Hawke’s Bay’s four Mayors and Regional Council Chairman.

19 May 2020

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